Depression and anxiety are major problems among doctors due to the pandemic

MADRID, November 3 (European press) –

A new international study recorded high levels of anxiety and depression among clinicians, especially among Italians, according to its authors in the journal PLOS ONE.

The research measured the mental health of doctors in Catalonia, Italy and the UK through more than 5,000 responses to surveys collected in two moments of the pandemic, in June and November/December 2020.

It found that about 1 in 4 doctors in Italy experienced symptoms of anxiety in June and December 2020, and about 1 in 5 reported symptoms of depression in the same period.

In Catalonia, about 16% of doctors reported symptoms of anxiety and about 17% were depressed during the same period, while in the UK about 12% of doctors reported symptoms of anxiety and about 14% were depressed.

This study is one of the first cross-country analyzes on the mental health of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the first to focus on clinicians, including consultants, physicians, and allied specialists (SAS). , specialist residents, physicians-in-training, and general practitioners.

Across all countries, female doctors were more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression: in Italy female doctors were 60% more likely to report symptoms of anxiety, and in the UK there was a 54% higher prevalence of depressive symptoms among female doctors.

Younger physicians (<60 years) were more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression in each of the three countries, and an association was found between perception of job safety and mental health.

About half of Italian doctors disagreed with the statement “My workplace provides me with the necessary personal protective equipment” in June 2020, a number that dropped to 30% in December 2020.

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This made Italy the country with the lowest perception of workplace safety and the highest rates of anxiety and depression.

Physicians in the three countries who felt vulnerable or exposed in their workplace were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Those who reported their health below normal (less than 3 on a scale of 1 to 5) were more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. And doctors who worked 40 hours or more in the past week were more likely to have anxiety and depression.

Study co-author and lead researcher Clement Quintana Domic, Professor of Economics at the University of Exeter Business School, said the study could inform how to protect and enhance clinicians’ mental well-being in current and future epidemics.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has been categorized as a traumatic event, and health workers are arguably the most directly exposed and for the longest time – he explains – and our study identified a high prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression among clinicians in both the first and second waves of the disease. epidemic, and similar patterns across countries suggest that our findings may be applicable to other European settings.”

It concludes, “The results of this study suggest that institutional support for health workers, and clinicians in particular, is important for protecting and promoting their mental health in current and future epidemics.”

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